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First Cut: Initial jobless claims in July 20 week lowest since mid-April

Initial jobless claims in the July 20 week fell 10,000 to 206,000, the lowest since 193,000 in the April 13 week. There’s still a bit of noise in the numbers after the usual early July increase, but overall the level seems to have returned to a trend level of around 210,000-220,000. The four-week moving average — a better gauge of underlying conditions at the moment — declined 5,750 to 213,000 in the July 20 week.

The Labor Department cited no special factors in the data and no states estimated claims in the week.

Continuing claims were down 13,000 to 1.676 million in the July 13 week, unwinding some of the claims levels from earlier in the month. The insured rate of unemployment was at 1.2% were hit has been since May 2018. The unrounded rate of insured unemployment declined to 1.162% after 1.171% in the prior week.

There isn’t much that this week’s claims data can add to the overall picture for the labor market. It remains tight, relatively few workers are facing layoffs even with slower activity in some sectors of the economy, workers who go on the unemployment rolls are not staying there as long, and the unemployment rate points to little resource slack.

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